A look back at 2011’s most notable construction projects
As 2011 comes to an end, it’s time to take a look back at some of the new construction projects that made headlines this year. Whether it’s through job creation, investment dollars or as a new community asset, the projects recognized here have all had a significant impact on the local economy.
So without further ado, let’s get started…
Last month’s opening of the $1.6 million Source Climbing Center brought a new, unique destination to downtown Vancouver, which is why it makes our Year-in-Review list. The facility, at the corner of 12th and Main Street, features climbing walls up to 36 feet tall and a 14-foot bouldering wall for more advanced climbers. The building was constructed from the ground up beginning in May, fueling the current revitalization of the downtown area. The project was backed by former instructor and climbing wall designer Hanz Kroesen and instructor Michael Lary.
City Hall restack
In September, city staff and services from five Vancouver buildings moved under one roof for the first time. The move to this LEED gold-certified building represented a historic homecoming to downtown, located just a few blocks from where the first City Hall stood in 1886. Beyond the historical significance, the move represented good business. The city bought its new headquarters (and adjacent vacant land) out of bankruptcy court for $18.5 million – about half its actual value. The city then signed a $1.77 million contract with a Ridgefield-based construction company to perform building modifications. The city expects to save roughly $1 million each year from not leasing office space from the five separate buildings city agencies previously occupied.
United Grain’s port expansion
United Grain Corporation (UGC) began the first phase of a $72 million building operation in June with the continuous pour concrete construction of a 340-foot tall building at the Port of Vancouver. The building, now the tallest structure in Vancouver, is used for grain cleaning and shipping. The company’s port expansion includes the addition of 24 storage silos, with a capacity of 60,000 metric tons of storage for wheat, corn and soybean. UGC currently exports about three million tons of wheat from the terminal, accounting for 16 percent of the nation’s total exports. Construction is expected to be completed mid 2012.
Farwest Steel’s $5 million purchase of 20 acres of industrial Port of Vancouver land was just the beginning of a major multi-million dollar investment in the community. The company, one of the leading distributors, processors and fabricators of specialty steel products in the Northwest, began construction on a $40 million facility earlier this year. The new facility will contain Farwest’s distribution, processing, fabricating and office support, and should be up and running next year. The company plans to bring more than 200 jobs to Clark County. The new jobs will pay $40,000-a-year on average, with benefits, according to the port.
SR-14 Interchange in Camas
At more than $28 million, the project to widen State Route 14 from two to four lanes from the end of the West Camas Slough Bridge to just east of Union Street represents one of the largest construction jobs in the area this year. Included in the project is construction of a new bridge, parallel to the existing bridge on the east end of Lady Island and construction of a split-diamond interchange at Union Street and Second Street. Construction on the project began in May, with a completion date of late 2012. The project will provide safer access to SR-14 and accommodate future residential, commercial and industrial growth in the area.
Luke Jensen Sports Park
This 20-acre site, located on Northeast 78th Street, about a quarter mile west of St. Johns Road, makes our Year-in-Review list not only for generating construction jobs, but for the investment in community it represents. Construction on the park began in April and will be complete early next year. The park features a pair of natural grass little league baseball/softball fields with dugouts and bullpens, two synthetic turf fields that will be used for T-ball and soccer, playground equipment, walking/biking trails and more. Design and construction of the nearly $9 million project is funded by the real estate excise tax, which is paid whenever property is sold.
Additional projects representing a significant impact to the business community in 2011 include: Cinetopia (Vancouver Mall); Clark County Food Bank; Fort Vancouver Artillery Barracks remodel; Kol Ami synagogue; New Seasons Fisher’s Landing (pictured); NW Natural Products expansion; PeaceHealth (at the Nautilus building); Scotton Way extension (Battle Ground); Share remodel; St. Johns and SR-500 Interchange.